First, she can't be bothered to put in a couple of words and turn a specious generalization into specifically targeted advice. When I took the San Francisco Sex Information training, lo, these many years ago, the first words out of my instructor's mouth were, "'Norm' is the name of a guy from Brooklyn." Outside of adult informed consent, there are no justifiable generalizations about sex: it's too complex a phenomenon with too many variables. Expressing any kind of generalization, however well-intentioned, establishes a norm and marginalizes those who fall outside that norm. Not a particularly gigantic issue, but it establishes a pattern that Christina is prone to the logical fallacy of hasty generalization from her own personal experience.
Second, she irritatingly uses "faith" to denote both skeptical and religious thought processes. I charitably presumed this usage was merely lazy, but today I see it was intentional.
Today she goes off the rails [link fixed].
It is entirely possible to be an overall sane, rational, functional person, and nevertheless have one particular area of irrational belief. Or even more than one.This is simply false. Christina enumerates a long list of irrational beliefs (or beliefs she considers irrational) and simply presumes that because the list is so long, the probability that someone will hold at least one of those beliefs is very high, indeed almost certain (from which she concludes that irrationality is "damn near universal"). The problem is that the beliefs she lists are not independent: The truly irrational beliefs (the rest are simply common mistakes) derive from a core of attachment to irrational, unrealistic thinking. Eliminate that core and all of the beliefs are simply ludicrous; lacking that core of irrationality, I wouldn't hold any of them.
In fact, it's not just possible. It's damn near universal. To atheists, as well as to believers.
We've all held irrational beliefs, and held on to them irrationally for longer than we should have.
Do any of these [irrational ideas] sound familiar? From your life, or from the lives of anyone you know? If not, I'm sure you can come up with some of your own, from your past, or maybe even from your present.No, I can't, regardless of your surety. Sorry, I'm not a hyper-self-critical neurotic woo-woo refugee.
I'm really fucking tired of implicitly or explicitly being labeled as a freak, a soulless, unspiritual computerized automaton, a emotionless Spock, simply because I do indeed rationally consider all my beliefs. And there are a lot of people like me who are sensible, rational people, who do apply rational thought to all their beliefs. Greta Christina might find it difficult, but for some of us it's just routine.
Believing some proposition without certainty is not irrational; indeed being actually mistaken is not evidence of irrationality. A rational person has to make actual decisions about what to do and what to believe based on information that is not just finite, but usually extremely limited. It is not irrational, for example, to believe "that you can argue people out of their religious beliefs, if you just make your arguments good enough." It's almost always (but not always) mistaken, but not irrational per se. It would be irrational to believe you can argue religious people out of their beliefs after you have been proven wrong for the zillionth time. It's not even irrational per se to believe the Earth is fixed and unmoving: it definitely feels fixed and unmoving. The belief becomes irrational only when it's held after apprehending the evidence to the contrary, in spite of evidence to the contrary.
It's not irrational to feel emotions, to have opinions and preferences. It's not irrational to do something just because you want to do it. It's not irrational to make moral judgments on the basis of emotions, opinions and preferences. It's not even necessarily irrational (although I argue it's mistaken) to believe that there are good objective reasons for one's moral judgments.
Christina is advocating appeasement.
Again, while secular faith has instances of irrationality -- many of them, even -- it isn't irrational by its very nature. I think religious faith is.There's a prima facie contradiction here: Religious believers are not irrational "by nature" because everyone (except the insignificant, marginalized, freakish Spocks such as myself) has irrational beliefs. The contradiction is obvious: By this argument, it's not that the religious aren't irrational, it's that everyone is irrational.
and this is very important --
I don't think religious believers are.
Not all of them, at any rate. Not by definition.
Here's the thing I think atheists need to remember. It is entirely possible to be an overall sane, rational, functional person, and nevertheless have one particular area of irrational belief. Or even more than one.
This argument is frankly stupid. We can draw a distinction: "[S]ecular faith... isn't irrational by its very nature. I think religious faith is," but we can't draw a distinction: "[R]eligious believers [just] hold one irrational belief that atheists don't hold," i.e. religious belief isn't substantively or essentially different, it's just superficially different.
Christina seems to rely on some bullshit postmodernist notion of universal humanism:
But the fact that religious believers hold one irrational belief that atheists don't hold doesn't make them fundamentally less-rational human beings than us. And we shouldn't pretend that it does.We're all human beings, right? Who's in a privileged position to judge?
Well, this is bullshit. Universal humanism does not entail that we shouldn't judge each other. It entails only that we are all equally privileged to judge, and we are subject or not subject to others' judgment all in the same way. Universal humanism is not the idea that there should be no laws, it's that all are equal before the law. The idea that one should be "perfect" to make moral judgments is a Christian idea. This idea doesn't argue against judgment per se, it argues only that God alone is privileged to judge... via His self-appointed Earthly representatives, of course.
Christina's position here is hopelessly confused. Taken to its logical conclusion (and Christian presuppositional metaphysics does indeed take this argument to its extreme) one could justly conclude that rationality itself was just another arbitrary belief. To be fair, Christina explicit disclaims such an interpretation, but a disclaimer of the logical conclusion of an argument is itself irrational.
I must admit, I don't have much empathy for people who struggle with irrational beliefs. I've of course had mistaken beliefs and I've had lazily constructed beliefs, but I've never had an irrational belief. Not one. I've modified or rejected every belief I've ever had for which I've been presented with sufficient contrary evidence. I've never felt the slightest bit of angst or discomfort in conforming my beliefs to the evidence available. And I've met a lot of people just like me.